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Friday, March 24, 2017

JonTron and Yooka-Laylee: The Ends Versus The Means

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - What do we think of this moral dilemma?
[Update 3/25/2017: There's a video version of this article at the bottom.]


And on one corner, we have the forces of JonTron and the “alt-right”! And on the other corner, there is the game developer Playtonic and the radical leftist videogame board, NeoGAF!

The current controversy of the week is this: Popular YouTuber JonTron, who has three million subscribers on YouTube (it's unknown how many of them are actually active), said really dumb/questionable/noble-but-poorly-articulated things in a political debate about culture, immigration, and race, with some left-wing guy. The substance of that issue doesn't matter to this discussion, but the end result is that JonTron, who is a (bad) entertainer, tried pretending like he's some kind of political thinker and it backfired. As a result, it divided his fanbase up.

This article isn't about YouTuber drama, because no one on this site cares about that garbage. What does matter is that KoopaTV's staffers have been warning about how JonTron is bad news in the industry, with particular interest on his voice-actor role for Playtonic (made up of former Rare Ltd. developers)'s Kickstarted game, Yooka-Laylee, which releases this April 11. Here are some prescient quotes from June 2016 from KoopaTV's RawkHawk2010:
“Anyone who associates with JonTron and his ilk is strictly limited in how far they can take criticisms on morality and ethics, and it may be that criticisms on morality and ethics are a bigger aspect of Yooka-Laylee than anyone ever would have thunk.”
“And really, is a Rare removed from Microsoft's clutches really any freer than a Rare groveling before the likes of JonTron and his minions? Nah, not if you've seen what I've seen.”
Now, I still haven't gotten to the main point: So what if a voice-actor doing mumbles for an indie game has politically incorrect views? Well, not everyone has a high-tolerance for letting things go and not escalating them into a big problem. Enter notorious fascist videogame forum NeoGAF, eloquently described by myself before as “a hotbed bubble of extremism” that “[lashes] out at the slightest ‘injustice’ around.” What could be more unjust than allowing a guy with unpopular political views to voice-act some mumbles in Yooka-Laylee?

Well, they were outraged, as usual. According to RawkHawk2010 (since he follows this crap and I don't), several NeoGAF members began complaining about JonTron's presence in the game post-debate in the designated Yooka-Laylee thread, which Playtonic staffers read. They wanted JonTron's voice patched out on day 1 of Yooka-Laylee's release. To be fair, not every NeoGAF member went along with this, but at least one of them was apparently banned for disagreeing with this outrage. I guess they started tweeting at various Playtonic staffers over Twitter, which may or may not be why those staffers have protected their Twitter accounts from public viewing.

NeoGAF JonTron Playtonic Yooka-Laylee posts thread punish campaign to remove
Top post: They organised (and then acted on) a Twitter campaign to random Playtonic staffers.
Middle: “That they do not do is what, in my case, I will punish.” Nevermind that sentence's grammar — it's scary in meaning, too.
Last: This guy also found the “punish” thing creepy, but he was... ignored. He's welcome to have his voice heard on KoopaTV, though!

Later that same day, Playtonic announced the removal of JonTron's mumbles from Yooka-Laylee. There's currently a NeoGAF thread with dozens and dozens of pages of posts celebrating this outcome.

So, NeoGAF and anyone who sympathises with them have won, and JonTron's voice-acting, however limited it'd be, won't be in the game. Props to Playtonic for trying to have lower costs on voice-acting than a certain other Kickstarter game, I guess, but apparently, they need to be careful of whom they hire. This sets a precedent where radical whiners will background check every single person involved in a game's credits for ideological differences from their accepted standard. (Communists from voice-actor union SAG-AFTRA will, of course, be deemed acceptable.)

Here's Playtonic for their explanation of their actions:
“However, in light of [JonTron's] recent personal viewpoints we have made the decision to remove JonTron's inclusion in the game via a forthcoming content update. We would like to make absolutely clear that we do not endorse or support JonTron's personal viewpoints and that, as an external fan contributor, he does not represent Playtonic in any capacity. Playtonic is a studio that celebrates diversity in all forms and strives to make games that everyone can enjoy. As such, we deeply regret any implied association that could make players feel anything but 100% comfortable”
The implication is this: We support diversity in all forms, unless it's diversity we disagree with. In other words, the same discredited diversity myth garbage plaguing the rest of the videogame industry. The end result is an industry-wide bubble of thought where non-leftists can't find employment and have to move on to other industries.

We're not yet at that end result: The majority of people don't care either way and are apathetic. If NeoGAF is left to its devices, though, they'll be treating those people as THE ENEMY as well:

NeoGAF Mark Stevenson Playtonic Twitter stop talking about politics game related people lot of white dudes douches
NeoGAF is disappointed in a Playtonic game designer expecting to see game-related talk by following game-related people.
...Well, good thing they don't follow KoopaTV's Twitter account. (You should, though.)

KoopaTV has opposed this kind of behaviour from NeoGAF and other sources many times in the past, be it their campaigns against Skaldic Games, or against Palmer Luckey, or even when they created the #Miiquality hate movement. However, I've expressed some... regret defending Skaldic Games given their post-article behaviour, so I certainly don't want to be seen as defending JonTron given all of the... historic and well-deserved animosity he's garnered from KoopaTV.

After this decision, alt-righters began flooding and concern-trolling anywhere they could (so, not NeoGAF, but, say, Twitter [which is the other possible reason that Playtonic's employees have protected their Twitter accounts from being viewed by the public] and Steam's forums and whatever) about JonTron. Now people are saying that Playtonic was stupid for offending JonTron's massive three-million-strong userbase, which literally goes back to Rawk's quote I pulled for this article's beginning about “JonTron and his minions” preventing Playtonic's freedom. It's basically blackmail. That's not right, either.

Concern-trolls are trying to get refunds on their Kickstarter pledges because they feel mislead into backing it since JonTron won't be voicing a minor character. Some of these have reportedly been deleted from existence by Playtonic-paid moderators, though they're doing a bad job getting rid of the piles of alt-right garbage currently on Yooka-Laylee's Steam board. One notable image was passed around of someone named Illasera apparently being banned for asking for a refund on said board, but that's FAKE NEWS and he was actually banned for directly arguing with, and attacking, the board's moderator with alt-right lines of dialogue.

Yooka-Laylee Kickstarter comments JonTron fans backing because voice acting
...Well, you can see in the Kickstarter's comments section at the time that honest JonTron fans WERE excited about JonTron's inclusion.

The end result of JonTron being disassociated is good, because JonTron should've never been involved with Yooka-Laylee to begin with. The means are terrible, because it's the same fascist-like tactics that I've been decrying on KoopaTV for years and years.

So... do the ends justify the means in this instance? If the answer to that is YES, then is KoopaTV selling out our “the ends don't justify the means” stance we took when we associated Hillary Clinton with “the ends justify the means”? I prefer to avoid justified judgments of hypocrisy.

Therefore, the ends don't justify the means, the method in which JonTron — a bad man and an even worse entertainer — was removed was so heinous that I'd rather he be in Yooka-Laylee than not. Yes, I refuse to side with NeoGAF and its radical far-left allies here.

But don't think for a moment I'm siding with those alt-right kooks, or even worse, with the JonTron fanbase.

By the way, come mid-April, we're going to talk about Yooka-Laylee as a videogame, not as a culture war battlefield. It's not looking too hot. That's when I'll finally fulfill that Yooka-Laylee-inspired request. But, as a preview to that: I do think that there is a big difference between being upset that Yooka-Laylee was cancelled for the Wii U after it was promised to be released for the Wii U... and being “upset” that JonTron's mumbles for a minor character are being removed. Where there is a connection between the two is the total failure of Playtonic as a company to control itself, its marketing message, and whatever internal processes it's supposed to have.

Stay tuned.


Ludwig uncontrollably cringes whenever he even has to look at JonTron, much less listen or watch him. That's why there aren't any images of JonTron in this article, but a bunch of images of other people's words about JonTron. He wasn't a backer of Yooka-Laylee, but RawkHawk2010 is (and give him props for his spot-on prediction). Ludwig and KoopaTV are big into free speech, but also big into the rights of companies to have at-will employment and contracts. Whatever contractual arrangement exists between JonTron and Playtonic is unknown.


KoopaTV similarly tried for a third way when it came to the entirety of #GamerGate.
Yooka-Laylee is now out, but of course, not for the Wii U. As mentioned here, it's not looking too hot.


18 comments :

  1. I'm going to play (and hopefully enjoy Yooka-Laylee) without any concerns about who is or is not providing voices, like I always do when these boycott controversies arises.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. (Big hope!)
      See, you're a normal person, and I think the majority of people are with you on this.

      Boycott movements are for weird fringe loonies. So when people say, “Doing this will affect your sales!” or “NOT doing this will affect your sales!” I greatly doubt it.

      Delete
  2. It seems to me like there was no way out for the Yooka-Laylee devs on this one. If they kept JonTron in, people get upset because they're irrevocably tacitly "associated" with him, even though that's patently insane. Since they removed his voice from the game, people get upset because they're now a pack of reactionary wusses who kowtow to any Moral Guardians™ who raise enough of a stink. Even though, again, that's a patently insane thing to think. This is what is known as a "Morton's Fork."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So back in my day, we just called this sort of thing a “dilemma.”
      Of course, it's also a false dilemma, since no normal person cares if he's in or not.

      (“Morton's Fork” is just begging to be turned into something Koopa-related.)

      Delete
    2. The formal terms in matters of logic, logical fallacies, and paradox have become a lot more widespread since the advent of the Internet, I'd imagine. And yes, the Morton's Fork could be summed up as, to give a vague example, if you agreed to perform some action, Morton Koopa would punch you. And if you refused to perform that action, Morton Koopa would still punch you, but for a different reason.

      Though from what I've been given to understand of him of late, he'd hardly need a REASON to punch someone, so perhaps it's not that great an example.

      Delete
    3. So the Internet made things more complicated? What happened to democratisation of information?!

      Keep the black paint away from Morton Koopa Jr.

      Delete
    4. The democratisation of information is what MADE things more complicated. Or more accurately, things have really been that complicated all along, and such spread of information has allowed more people to REALIZE it.

      Delete
    5. ...well those two sentences are totally different points, so I'll just consider the second one.

      So, things have always been complicated (true — life's complicated stuff), but people weren't aware of it until the Internet told them?

      Delete
    6. More that it's not as easy for people to ignore how complicated things are--as people are often wont to do--when it's actually quite easy to discover that they are in fact not, thanks to the internet. Before the internet, people pretty much had to put actual effort into "de-simplifying" anything, and so most people weren't inclined to unless it had something to do with their jobs, or something else that a lack of more complicated knowledge in would clearly cause them obvious problems. But now, with the internet, more people are actually interested, in varying extents, in gaining knowledge beyond those spheres. With more people gaining that knowledge, some start using it to look down on others, which causes even MORE people to open their minds--again, to varying extents--to the more complicated knowledge. The results of this has been mixed, you get people who actually know their stuff and people who are only interested in LOOKING like they know their stuff, but I think the net benefit has been very positive.

      Delete
    7. I was scared of replying to this because of the total lack of white space. Gotta put line breaks.

      I think JonTron fits into the “only LOOKING like they know their stuff” category, which is dangerous because the Internet also allows people to obtain oversimplified information that kind of... doesn't reflect reality. (Such as a lot of what JonTron said.)

      At KoopaTV, I'd like to be able to claim that we take complicated stuff and present it in an easy-to-get, engaging way, without losing the actual truthful meaning of the complicated stuff. Do you think we do that?

      Delete
    8. I'll take the line breaks thing under advisement, thanks. And I believe I've said before that this site claims to value both truth and levity, and does indeed back up that claim. :)

      Delete


    9. That's not quite what I was asking about just now, but I'll consider it a yes. So thanks.

      Delete
    10. It was indeed supposed to be a yes. Sometimes I try rather a bit too hard to be clever in what I say, sorry!

      Delete
    11. Don't worry, I'm the same way. :)

      Delete
  3. According to what I have been reading everywhere, the Switch version does not even have an exact date at the time of this comment.

    ReplyDelete
  4. A bit late for a response, but I have to ask:

    "The implication is this: We support diversity in all forms, unless it's diversity we disagree with. In other words, the same discredited diversity myth garbage plaguing the rest of the videogame industry. The end result is an industry-wide bubble of thought where non-leftists can't find employment and have to move on to other industries."

    JonTron's claims were false and misinterpreted statements about which races commit more crime and whether certain races "dilute the gene pool" of whites. Can such an opinion really be considered "diversity"? This isn't some difference in political opinion, he's literally saying that non-white races are inferior. I don't know when "leftist" became a dirty word for "showing common decency towards other people" but it's really disturbing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey, it's never too late on KoopaTV!

      According to JonTron later on, that's not what he meant to say. My take on that is that he's sort of an intellectual lightweight and an oaf (and a bad comedian), so I take his word that he's bad at articulating, too. He might not know how to... read things correctly (such as articles or statistics). That doesn't make him a racist or even indecent. It makes him ignorant/an idiot, which is quite different. If you talk slow enough and in a way that he can understand from his perspective, you can probably show him the better way.

      "Leftist" became a dirty word decades ago. One of the many things that pisses off ordinary people in America (along with avowed "rightists"...which isn't a word currently in use but you're free to try to make it one, if it makes you feel better) is the idea that liberals have some kind of... exclusivity on decency. A lot of people, myself included and probably JonTron too (I'd say he can speak for himself, but... for his sake, he shouldn't), think that people on the political left are often (relatively speaking) hypocrites and indecent towards other people. They got a lot of problems with other dudes, but they don't pick up on it because they're so... self-righteous.

      ...yeah.

      It's not what JonTron said specifically in that debate that's not welcome. (...'cause it's NOT welcome in... smart society.) But you can be contrary to social liberalism and not come off to be a raving moron (through actual, thoughtful critiques). That possibility isn't welcome in the gaming industry.

      Delete

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